The Facebook Apocalypse

Facebook announced another algorithm update yesterday, and this one is probably one of the biggest algorithm updates I have ever seen. Now, many of my fellow marketers are calling this the “Facebook Apocalypse.” While I think that is a little dramatic, I DO think we are going to see a marked changed on how people interact with brands on Facebook and the strategies that marketers will use in order to continue to market on Facebook.

Before you decide to throw up your hands and give up on Facebook, let’s have a real conversation about what this actually means and how you should be marketing your business online.

First, let’s break down the announcement from Facebook and what it means. Then I will talk about the things you need to do today to make sure this does not impact your business negatively.

Let’s all take a deep breath and get through this together.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook and Adam Mosseri, Head of the Facebook News Feed, both broke down what the update means.

You can read them here and here.

What is the update?

From Facebook:

“Today we use signals like how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in the News Feed.

With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.

We will also prioritize posts from friends and family over public content, consistent with our News Feed values.”

Translation: With this update, posts between people and not pages will receive the biggest boost in your News Feed. Posts that reflect “time and care” between people are going to rank higher in the News Feed. Meaning posts with comments that go back and forth, and posts with comments that take more time than just a one word or emoji response. This part of the announcement specifically calls out this is content between friends NOT pages.

This statement reflects what Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this year about “fixing Facebook.” Basically, they have said they want people to have a more meaningful experience on Facebook. So they know that when people just scroll through Facebook and don’t interact it makes people feel bad. Facebook believes that by bringing back the community feel and more interaction between PEOPLE and not brands it will improve the experience on Facebook.

What does this mean for Pages and public content?

From Facebook:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.

As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”

Translation: Here they call out the space in the News Feed. This is something we know has been happening. Facebook is running out of space in the News Feed. There is only so much content they can serve to you and really only so much content you can consume. The more people and businesses that use Facebook, and who advertise on Facebook, the less space and attention there is available. We also know that it’s important to Facebook to keep people on the platform. Now, with this announcement Facebook said they expect that people will spend LESS time on Facebook but that they believe the time they do spend on Facebook will be better.

In the past, algorithm updates Facebook have said some pages will see decreases while others will see increases. In this announcement they are VERY clear that most pages will likely see a decrease in organic reach and engagement. However, they do call out that, “The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it.” The statements here are not a surprise. If you are not producing high quality content that drives engagement from your followers on Facebook, you are going to be severely impacted.

Can people still see posts from the Pages they follow at the top of the News Feed?

From Facebook:

“Yes. People who want to see more posts from Pages they follow can choose See First in the News Feed Preferences to make sure they always see posts from their favorite Pages.”

Translation: If you want people to see your content, you don’t just need them to like your page. You need them to opt-in to see your content by choosing the ‘See First in News Feed’ option under Following on your page.

What types of Page posts will show higher in the News Feed?

From Facebook:

“Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.

Using “engagement-bait” to bait people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed.”

Translation: You MUST create quality, relevant content that helps to create conversation and community between you and your followers. Period. They call out Live video, groups, events and news.

So now that we’ve reviewed Facebook’s big announcement, here’s our advice about the strategies you can implement in order to make sure your business experiences minimal negative impact.

1. Create quality content

You must create quality content that your ideal customer wants to see. As I mentioned above there is limited space in the News Feed so only post the best of the best when it comes to your content. Do not post for the sake of posting. You need to have thought, time and care put into anything you post on Facebook. The aspect of the algorithm that is not changing is how Facebook calculates indications of engagement, likes, comments, shares and now conversation and meaningful comments. If none of those are happening on your posts, then the algorithm will begin to demote content from your page and your followers will no longer see your content in their News Feeds.

2. Post less

This goes hand and hand with creating quality over quantity. Posting 3 -5 times a week is going to be more effective than blasting out tons of posts every day.

3. Use Facebook Live

Facebook specifically calls out Facebook Live in this announcement. Facebook Live gets six times the interaction than any other kind of video on Facebook. Make sure to ask questions and encourage interaction during your Facebook Lives. Remember, conversations and interaction are important.

4. Concentrate on Groups

Again, Facebook calls this out specifically. People tend to interact more in groups than they do with pages. Facebook has also indicated that they are working on creating community through groups with more group features like insights and the ability to schedule posts, and their Groups Summits.

5. Train your audience through episodic content

If you train your users to expect regular content, they will remember that and seek it out. Get them used to watching a weekly Facebook Live, or by hosting a conversation during the same time every week.

6. Use Facebook Ads

If you want your content to be seen by your ideal client you are going to have to use Facebook Ads. The great thing about Facebook Ads is that you don’t need a huge budget. However, it’s apparent that Facebook will also soon be running out of ad space so make sure your ads are quality and engaging. Only put money behind your best content.

7. Have an integrated marketing strategy

Facebook should only be one piece of your marketing strategy. There is a whole marketing ecosystem out there that works together. Social networks are what we in the marketing world call, “rented land.” Do not build your business on rented land. Get your audience to places that you own. Your email list, an SMS program, etc. Learn how to leverage strategies like SEO.

Your audience consumes content in multiple places. Find out where they are, what is relevant to them, build relationships and you’ll be just fine.

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